It is confirmed. Lucy is a hoarder. In her defense, she’s a generous hoarder, but she has an unusual obsession with things. Normally, possessiveness over objects is something I associate with dogs. Dogs are like toddlers: what’s yours is mine; what’s mine is mine; if I see it, it’s mine; if I touch it, it’s mine… I’ve known cats to be possessive over food, over places (my bed! mine!) or people, but not over objects.
And If I Die Before I Wake…
…I pray the Lord my toys to break
So none of the other kitties can have them.
I first suspected that Lucy might have some…issues shortly after I brought her home. She was sitting on my lap and I was ambling around the internet, and I thought maybe some mother cat sounds would soothe her and help her settle in. So I brought up a YouTube video of a mother cat with her kittens and turned up the sound.
Lucy sat up and looked around sharply, then jumped off my lap. She returned mere seconds later, dropping one of her toys in my lap. Oh, I thought, she wants to play! I picked up the toy to throw it for her, but she put a paw on my hand and pushed it back into my lap. Confused, I let the toy stay. She jumped down again and returned with another toy, which she dropped in my lap. She repeated this until all of her toys were safely ensconced, then jumped down and began roaming the apartment, looking under things, sniffing under them, and so on.
And that was when it dawned on me. Lucy hadn’t brought me her toys because she wanted to play; she heard another cat in the area and brought them to me for safekeeping. While she hunted down the other cat. And killed it, I gather. She wanted to make sure that the intruder wouldn’t get its dirty paws on her toys.
Don’t Worry: I’ll Take Care of the Family
Cats are creatures of routine. When things are out of the ordinary, they get concerned.
So it’s not all that surprising that – after I’d established a breakfast time of 9:00 for the kitties and a 9:00 rising time for myself — they were somewhat concerned when, during a bout of illness, I got up to feed them at the normal time, but then went back to bed. They followed me and sat on either side of me as I settled back under the covers, staring.
After staring failed to produce a return to the normal routine, they reluctantly settled in on either side of me for a morning nap.
I was awakened a few hours later with Lucy watching me intently from her perch on my chest, upon which she had laid a Triscuit. A slightly soggy, slightly chewed, but largely intact Triscuit.
My thought process went something like this:
1) Aww, that’s so sweet! She’s realized I can’t hunt for myself and is bringing me food!
2) Ew, it’s all wet and gross. I hope she won’t be hurt if I don’t eat it in front of her.
3) Where…did she…get the Triscuit?
A Side Note About My Family
I come from a family that can be a bit obsessed about cleanliness. The exemplar of this obsession is my Great Aunt Irene. She has special powers.
You or I can walk into a room, and we know — in a theoretical sense — that there are germs there. Irene can see them. She knows how to find them.
And make them scream.
You could eat off her basement floor. You could do surgery on her kitchen floor. She keeps her clothes draped in plastic and has liners between each layer of clothing in her drawers.
She started teaching me to clean when I was in kindergarten.
So, while I like to think I have a healthier attitude toward how much cleanliness is healthy than most of my family, I occasionally have moments of terror that somewhere, in some dark recess of my apartment, moldering food is lurking. I move my furniture to vacuum under it each week, but the irrational fear remains.
Back to Lucy
So anyway, there on my chest sat my sweet, loving kitten, angelic pride shining from every whisker. This was a sacrifice for her. She’s food-obsessed like no cat I’ve ever had, but she had spared this Triscuit for me.
And all I could think of was, OMG WHERE DID SHE GET THE TRISCUIT? THERE IS MOLDERING FOOD SOMEWHERE IN MY APARTMENT NONONONONONO…!
I staggered out of bed holding my Triscuit and began a (literally) feverish search of my apartment. Finally, having established that there was no moldering food anywhere, I went back to bed. Lucy, still so proud of herself she was almost quivering, joined me and purred so loud I was worried the bed would vibrate itself apart.
The next evening, I was sitting on the couch and my gaze fell upon the one place in the apartment I hadn’t searched: the kitty condo.
I got down on my knees and peered inside, while Lucy paced nervously behind me, chattering defensively.
Inside was a pile of triscuits. And a pile of popcorn kernels. And a pile of granola bar pieces. And a pile of cat treats. And a pile of cat toys. And an orange.
Lucy protested shrilly as I cleaned it out. But what are we going to do when the famine comes? I am trying to TAKE CARE OF THIS FAMILY!
I attempted to explain to her that if a famine or zombie apocalypse or whatever happened, we had canned food. Lots and lots of canned food. I had this under control.
Lucy was not convinced.
The following evening I went to a friends’ house to feed their cats while they were out of town. When I came home, I discovered that Lucy had chewed through the rubber band holding the food cabinet shut, gotten into my almond cookies, gorged herself, and restocked her condo.
At this point, I became slightly concerned.
But, tonight she convinced me of her generosity.
I went to the store and came home with strawberries and chocolate dip, which I intended to take over to Jav’s for chocolate-covered strawberries and TV-watching. But while I was changing clothes, Lucy presented me with a strawberry. First she deposited it at my feet while I was in my bedroom, and when I didn’t eat it, she tried again on the kitchen counter.
She has spent the rest of the evening flouncing around with an air of mystified hurt.
She has not yet hit upon the idea of stashing it in her condo for later, thank goodness. I’m waiting until she’s distracted to throw it away.